I knew the big spoiler for BATMAN: The Wedding (Tom King and multiple artists) was that it didn’t come off, but given King’s best work has been the Selina/Bruce relationship I thought it would still be fun. Nope; we have an idiotic Booster Gold plotline, then we get into the non-funny, non-interesting 21st century Joker crashing the wedding (Greg Hatcher at Atomic Junkshop lays out what’s wrong with that) and finally Selina walking away thanks to some manipulation by Bane. It’s that last part that annoys me — walking away without at least talking to Bruce about it is cheap TV soap crap. Thumbs down.
BATMAN: Night of the Monster Men by Steve Orlando, multiple co-writers and artists was surprisingly enjoyable though I’m not sure it’s actually good. Hugo Strange creates an army of monsters (this is based on a Golden Age story that already got rebooted once in this century) to destroy Gotham, so Batman has to draw on all his allies, including Batwoman, Nightwing, Spoiler and Gotham Girl to save the day. I think it’s maybe seeing all the Bat-family together and Batman not acting like a complete tool that made me like it, because that’s rare these days.
BLACK PANTHER: Panther’s Quest by Don McGregor and Gene Colan brought McGregor back to T’Challa for the first time since the 1970s Jungle Action run. The plotline tackles the question of T’Challa’s never seen mother, who it turns out vanished in South Africa years earlier. Now T’Challa has a clue to her whereabouts, but unsurprisingly, some powerful people don’t want her found. This results in a real-world look at South Africa before apartheid collapsed, and McGregor does a good job showing an ugly regime without going over the top (a lot of comics in the 1980s treated South Africa like Dr. Doom’s Latveria). However the naturalistic story, in weekly installments is slow-paced, and the heavy narration overwhelms the story in a way it didn’t in Panther’s Rage.
Like her Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine’s TESTOSTERONE REX: Myths of Science, Sex and Society does an excellent job deconstructing Men Are From Alpha, Women Are From Beta myths about humans, such as the argument that natural selection evolved males to be more promiscuous (the advantage is considerably less than pop-science cliches imply, nor is male polyamory or female fidelity a universal natural norm); that men are natural risk-takers (studies show people of either gender tend to take risks in some parts of life and caution in others) and claims that women are neither competitive or sexually lustful. This also covers some of the same territory as her previous book, showing how much of male or female is perception (gender performance goes up or down depending whether a task is typed as male, female or neutral). Very good, and obviously useful for Undead Sexist Cliches.
THE MASTER OF DREAMS: Book One of the Dreamscape Cycle by Mike Resnick isn’t as bad as I found his The Doctor and the Rough Rider, it’s just dismally bland. Protagonist Eddie Raven gets sucked into dreamscapes resembling Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz and more (with enough changes to avoid copyright problems) where his dream girl keeps turning up, but can he defeat the Master of Dreams beside it all? While I like this kind of jumping-int0-fiction story (I’ve done something similar myself), Raven’s extremely passive and never seems to feel any urgency about getting home; the book reads like Resnick thought the settings would be enough to wow us, and they’re not.
#SFWApro. Cover by Bill Reinhold and Veronica Gandini, all rights remain with current holder.